Friday, September 24, 2010

Station Crew Heads Back To Earth On Second Departure Attempt

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut departed the International Space Station late Friday, heading toward an overnight landing on the central steppes of Kazakhstan.

With outgoing station commander Alexander Skvortsov at the controls, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft backed away from the outpost at 10:02 p.m. The trio was scheduled to arrive back on Earth at 1:21 a.m.

"Guys, good luck," a crewmate said as the Soyuz and the station flew 220 miles above the Russian-Mongolian border. "God be with you."

An initial attempt to depart the station late Thursday was scrapped after hooks and latches securing the spacecraft at the station failed to open. Jumper cables were installed to bypass a faulty electrical circuit.

U.S. astronaut Douglas Wheelock now is in command of the station. Onboard with him are U.S. astronaut Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.

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